Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Proof: Threading Is For Idiots

In cycling, some riders like to perform "threading" whenever necessary. This means weaving in and around parked cars, or passing loads of people on the right along the shoulder when there is NOT a dedicated bike lane. Other forms of threading are "bike messenger" types where riders slip in and around moving cars like a KY slathered dildo. Well, these cyclists may not be slathered in KY - but they ARE dildos.

Maybe they are just in a hurry? Maybe they are "too cool" to just follow the rules?

This procedure - I will opine - is idiotic at best and serves only a few solid purposes:

1. Piss off motorists who already have a disdain for cyclists.
2. Piss off cyclists who are trying their hardest to follow the rules of the road and not piss off more motorists.

Of course, the "hardcore," or those who think they are Lance, or those in too much of a hurry to wait in line like everyone else just don't seem to get it. They squeeeeeze past people just wanting to keep that momentum going. God forbid they have to brake a bit and switch a gear.

The primary reason this is BAD is as follows: it inevitably leads to a "right hook" where a threading cyclist has a car suddenly turn right cutting the cyclist off. This can happen any time for sure, but when a rider is threading on the right, a right turning driver is not expecting a sudden pass on their right by a "oh I cannot slow down because I am a wannabe" cyclist.

A secondary and worse thing that can happen due to threading through slow moving traffic in urban areas is what I will coin the "steel cage squeeze." This is even more ridiculous than the stopped traffic/right shoulder situation. You going to fly between to moving vehicles where you don't know if they are about to move closer together like the walls in an Indiana Jones movie? Darwin would be proud of you.

Motorists simply cannot know what the hell you are doing as a cyclist if you are riding all over the damn place like a hipster idiot. You are operating a vehicle - yes the bike is a vehicle - and by law should follow the same rules as other vehicles. Why? Predictability. That is a primary operational procedure on a bike that keeps you safe in traffic. Buzzing all over every lane on all sides of the road at three times the speed of traffic in an urban setting is asking for it.

I present to you this following evidence I came across via another site. Threading is BAD and DUMB. Threading can get you KILLED. BOTH of the cyclists in this video clearly play with fire (threading) and this my friends is how you get burned.  

This guy needs to take at least one life off of his nine for this idiot move. I had to watch this a handful of times to just absorb it all. I know this goes on a lot - I see it in my own hometown - but this takes the cake. Lets do a quick play by play of these guys moves - maybe any childrens who happen upon this post will learn something - that riding a bike like you are in a Jackass movie will make you look like just that.

Here our intrepid cyclist decides to make his first wrong move of the day - cutting off a moving van. Nice. Strike #1.

Like a lemming, our chase cyclist follows suit. God forbid anyone get ahead of you - everything is a race, right? Anyway, if the van driver wasn't already hating cyclists he is now double hating them. Thanks guys. Take note that our lead race-commuter has drifted into the oncoming lane around a tall white van with tinted windows. Good thing a huge truck was not right there. Strike #2.

There is that truck! Lucky the cosmos arranged it to not be a handful of seconds earlier (see pic above). Of course, at this awesome speed, the rider has to choose: A) slow down. B) plow into the pedestrian island. C) Without looking, cut off the car you just passed likely startling the driver. Add up all the rest of these drivers who have a new morning loathing of cyclists because of these guys behavior. Sigh... Strike #3.

In a head shaking move the guy tries the squeeze play. Must be really late for the office. Well, now he's going to be really late - already has three strikes - now he is OUT! Im not entirely sure, but putting your hips between a steel Nissan pickup and a massive double decker bus that is closing the gap is asking for a bad day. I wonder if at this very second he is wondering what a double decker bus or Nissan truck feels like when it rolls over his face. Or pelvis. Or leg. Or hand.

Ooopsie poopsie!! Looks like he didn't make it, based on the tire flying into the air. Now we have all the previous drivers, plus a handful of pedestrians, plus a pickup driver, plus a double decker bus full of commuters ALL likely thinking "WHAT AN ASSHAT!" all at the same time. Great cycling PR.

Cyclists: Don't thread. just slow the hell down and enjoy the ride. The WORK will still be there when you arrive. Your BOSS will still be a dick face wether you are five minutes early or five minutes late. The hip coffee place you are going to will still be there. Sheesh. Ask yourself: "Is it worth my life?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Days, Hours, Minutes, Seconds. I happened to pop onto the blog to do some editing and messing with banner images just a handful of seconds before the Cycle Oregon countdown timer hit the once in a cycle 111:11:11:11. I had just a moment to get a screen capture just as the clock rolled onto it. Awesome.

Time is already going by quickly and soon we will be in double digits for going coastal. While sitting here looking at the seconds tick away - when I should be sleeping instead - I decided to reminisce via iPhoto a bit on past Cycle Oregon's. Here are a few images for your enjoyment.

After a while the cyclists get so used to the locals that everyone just goes about their business...

Coffee in.... coffee out...

Covered bridges + Little to no traffic = Awesome.

Sunrise... Sunset... All beautiful!

Even with many miles to go, looking ahead never makes me want to be somewhere else.

How many times can you ride a bike UP to Crater Lake and then AROUND it soaking in all the 
history at every turn? Only once.

Manage the CARBS!

Since embarking on the Paleo diet for over a month, one thing constantly on my mind was how to keep tabs on the amount of carbs I was eating. In the movie "Fat Head", an excel spreadsheet appears to be in use to track carbs. That's a bit too old school for me and a real hassle. Surely there must be a modern alternative - designed with a sole purpose in mind - keeping tabs on your carbohydrate intake.

Enter a brief search on the iTunes app store to discover Carb Manager. After taking a leap and using this app all I can say is this - it's the real deal. If you are doing a Paleo, Zone, Atkins, or any other sort of low carb diet this is the app you NEED today. If you are not on a low carb diet the information this app provides is still incredibly useful. If you don't have an iPhone then you need one so you can put this gem of an app to good use immediately.

Now, I have downloaded a slew of diet and exercise apps over a year - designed to keep tabs on calorie intake, calories burned, food eaten, etc, etc, etc. All of them were kind of "meh" at the end of the day. I will call these other apps "single use apps" similar to "single use kitchen gadgets" - in that after the first use to justify the expenditure you never use them again.

Carb Manager is an app that you will go to on a daily basis if you are serious about tracking your carb intake. For $3 you get an app that does just about everything in an information rich, yet simple to use interface. About the only thing it won't do is prevent you from shoving all those carbs down your gullet. Lets be honest - it's hard to avoid carbs in today's modern "we put CORN in EVERYTHING" diet. This app lets you keep tabs and make wiser decisions. Seeing the bar graph fill up to your individually determined "carb max" for the day is a real incentive. If you go over and see the green bar turn red - well you start to think ahead for tomorrow - need to make better choices. Something about keeping tabs and "writing things down" helps immensely in this regard.

Lets take a look at what your 3 bills gets:

The first step is to add your individual settings and set a carb max. Make it whatever you want depending on your goals. The app asks for some basic information and can be edited at any time.

Ready to add what you are eating, or make some choices based on the data BEFORE you put the pie in the hole? Select the "Foods" tab and either go by category as shown above, or do an individual search. There is a LOT of stuff within these individual categories and at first it takes a bit of time to sift through the information to find the right thing. Once you do and add a food item to your log, it shows up under a "recent search" menu. 

Once you find the food you ate (or will eat) you hit "Ate It Today" and are presented with a choice of what meal or as a snack. Forget to add an item yesterday? Just hit the left arrow at the bottom to change the button to "Ate It Yesterday." Keep hitting that left arrow to go back in time and add it on a specific date. Hit the right arrow to "Will Eat Tomorrow" or keep hitting that arrow to set up that food for your future. Slick. Turns out you like to eat this particular item a lot? Hit the star button near the top right to add it to your favorite food list to make finding it again easier.

The great thing about this app is the clear and graphic nature. Hmmm, should I eat this 22g Net Carb crepe? Thats a lot of "green" in that pie chart methinks... Are you close to your carb max? Hit "Log" for a quick look. Does the crepe have any redeeming nutritional qualities to justify the indulgence? Hit "Full Nutritional Info" and then decide - crepe or not to crepe? (Hint: PASS!)

Under the "Log" tab you will have a daily read of your total carb intake compared to your set maximum after you add your foods. Excellent. As a bonus, you get to see all the other important information like calorie intake, total fat, and protein.

Overshoot your max for the day and you get a red graph. Don't worry, no alarm bells go off and your iPhone wont taze you, but seeing your log go from green to red is a bit of a bummer. My May 20 was "Epic Fail" on my goal. It is actually pretty amazing what seeing the graph will do to affect your eating choices. At the top menu you can hit "Food" to be taken a level deeper:

Wonder what specifically you had for dinner? Here it is. If you want to see the deeper nutritional information for a specific item, just tap the right arrow and you will see a breakdown of that individual food. Neat.

Hitting the overall "Nutrition" tab at the top lets you see in explicit detail where you are with all of your vitamins, minerals, fat, cholesterol, etc. There are 32 nutrients here. Are you getting your Iron? Getting your daily allowance of Folate? Vitamin K? Now you will know. This information is very interesting to watch over the course of your meals.

Over time, you can track your carb intake compared to your set max via the "Graph" tab. See what days you bombed and do better next time. Most excellent.

Information freaks fear not - total carb intake isn't the only thing this app graphs. When you fist go into "Graph" you select what you want to see. Carbs is only one of a slew of choices. See also your fat intake, protein intake, fiber, sugar, cholesterol, as well as all the vitamins and minerals! If you are tracking your weight, you can graph that as well.

Three bills goes a long way for all of this information. I think I have finally found an app that is easy enough to use that I can stick with it. Carb Manager is easy to use and packs an impressive amount of information. I highly recommend checking it out.

Idle Me This...

Nothing beats adding some bling to your bike more than adding some functional bling. The kind that not only looks killer but also makes an immediate and noticeable improvement in your ride quality. Enter here the Terracycle titanium tooth idler.

TC Idler = Smooooooth

This is the "premium" version of their idler wheel. They also offer an aluminum cog "sport" version for a bit less money. Before I get into the reasons I installed this, I will say that on nearly all of my recumbents I have installed Terracycle idlers. I feel that in every case they have added a level of smoothness and quiet to the drivetrain.

On the B1, the results were equal to those on my other bikes. Immediately I noticed a much quieter drivetrain through the idler section. The OEM ICE idler is not a piece of junk, mind you, but even after only 300 or so miles it had started to show obvious wear grooves. Nor was it very quiet. The Terracycle idler really made an improvement in this area.

A bit of functional bling goes a long way to creating a quieter ride.

Another thing that was immediately noticeable was a much smoother flow of the chain. Since the idler is a gear - as opposed to just a rubber roller - the drivetrain flows much smoother. Why? Well the chain just goes easier over a gear as opposed to chewing into a flat rubber surface under tension. Some may debate this, but after seeing the wear that results on flat surface OEM idlers on my bikes in the past (a LOT) versus the wear on my older Terracycle idlers (little if any I can notice) I am sold.

Terracycle sells idler kits for a lot of recumbent bike and trike makes. I highly recommend them. For the B1, there was no specific kit, but ordering up the proper size idler for a direct swap replacement was simple and always an option.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fat Head!!

We have been following the paleo diet now for a while with a lot of success. Add to this - I feel better now than I ever have. What follows is the documentary film "Fat Head" and it is a must watch for everyone who wishes to hear some amazing information about diet, history, politics, etc.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ride Less to Ride Better

Ill say it. I think that a key to getting into better shape - better overall fitness - is to ride your bike LESS. Yes, ride less often and for fewer miles. My regimen lately has led me to believe that piling on huge miles os not going to do you any good fitness wise.

That said, high miles over continual multiple days is good training - for boredom and preparing your rear end for a full on ass-hatchet assault. But since we are talking recumbents here we can ignore the need to develop full-on taint calluses to ward off upright bike seat issues. A recumbent that you are dialed in on is like sitting in your favorite easy chair. You don't need to train for the pain, you just sit and smile.

Now when I say ride less, this is not a pass to just ditch the wheels and watch game shows. Ride less and change up your workout. This is particularly important if you feel that you have hit an exercise plateau and are not making progress like you want. If you are topped out on the bike, simply adding more and more miles will not get you over the hump. You need to get off the bike.

When you do get off the bike do something different. Interval train. CrossFit. Do some air squats. Push ups. Run 400 meter sprints. Pull ups. Leg lifts. Etc etc. Muscle confusion is what you need to get over the ridge. When you do get back on the bike train at a harder intensity for LESS time. Don't destroy yourself over huge mileage and call it training. It is likely that the shorter more intense workouts will improve your cycling (even distance cycling) and your family will be the better off since you won't be gone for hours and hours on end every darned weekend.

The other pillar to this change is diet. Shut off the processed food faucet. Just shut it off. I will go as far to say dump the carbs and dump the ridiculous idea of "carb loading." The carbs are wreaking havoc on your insulin levels and that is never a good thing. If you want the definitive source that carbs are the real killer, take a read of Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. For me, I have been largely carb free and have never felt better. CrossFit and training my body at activities OTHER than just riding the recumbent has helped my weight loss and my riding/climbing abilities have improved drastically.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hey, Sweet Fenders!

Over the winter I had the opportunity to give a good test to my Woody's Fenders on the QNT. They work great and as a bonus they look awesome. For many weeks of riding locally in PDX the fenders have had a real share of Portland wet. I am pleased to say they still look like new and are holding up great.

No rain today but looking good for it - just in case... it is Oregon after all.

It wasn't until the recent Monster Cookie ride in Salem, however, that I realized Cody's great fenders are also a real attention getter. Lots of "cool wood fenders!" from people on the approach. Added bling = added visibility I suppose.

The irony is that the weather was clear as a bell, but I decided to sport the fenders for the Cookie anyway. Given that this years Cycle Oregon is on the coast, I want to have some long mileage with these fenders to see how they stay put and to eliminate any rattles, etc. that may arise. Last years CO only had one day where I wished for the fenders (left them at home) but this year riding on the coast = fenders are on the must pack list.

They see me rollin... dry.

One day of riding a trike in the wet rain - leaning into corners only to receive an eyewash with wet road grit is one day too many. Normally on a day ride from home I will go without if the weather is good, but a week ride in Oregon allows too many days for possible rain. Sorry weather guy - can't trust you all on a week out forecast.

So - good to go to date on the fenders. Wood = trick looks and effective. Surprisingly light too. One of the benefits of being on the trike is that I can let go of the inner weight weenie and go in 100 percent style.